The Iowa State Faculty Senate had a meeting Tuesday where senators made announcements regarding Iowa State and hosted a discussion on tenure track reforms.
The Faculty Senate’s starting announcements centered around numerous athletic announcements.
The Athletics Council had their election, and Erin Wilgenbusch, a Senior Lecturer and current member of the Athletics Council, won reelection. Wilgenbusch said she would be focusing on student athletes academic development with the help of focus groups.
Tim Day, president of the Faculty Senate, continued the discussion of athletics with an academic performance review.
“Student athletes have comparable grades to other students and similar graduation rates,” Day said, “and student athletes who had their athlete eligibility their entire time at Iowa State had a 100 percent graduation rate.”
Day also highlighted one student athlete from Venezuela, Jhoanmy Luque. Luque is a ten-time All-American, five time Big 12 champion and Venezuelan national record holder in outdoor long jump. In addition to her athletic success, Luque has been able to graduate with a degree in marketing and will finish another degree in international business this May.
On top of the academic successes of the Iowa State Athletics program, it has had economic successes as well.
Day said that Iowa State athletics would be announcing a “$1 million contribution to funding degree-completion grants for Iowa State students.”
These grants would help any Iowa State student who is being held back from finishing their degree based on fees. Day said if a student has a couple thousand dollars in fees that are preventing them from graduating, these grants could help them get their degree.
More information will be out later this week when Iowa State Athletics officially announces the grants.
Changes to the spring commencement ceremonies this year were also brought up.
Robert Wallace, associate professor in ecology, said rather than the “grueling four hour commencement ceremonies”, ISU will split up the ceremonies by department. For example, the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will have their own commencement while Veterinary Medicine will have its own commencement.
Also on the docket, Iowa State Provost Jonathan Wickert talked about the recent announcements regarding state de-appropriations to Iowa Regent Universities.
Wickert said that the state has increased the overall mid year budget cuts to $35.5 million. $11 million of which is being cut from Regent universities.
“There is no clear idea of what this means for Iowa State as of yet,” Wickert said, “but UNI may be exempt from the cuts on the basis of how many state residents go there.”
If this is the case, Iowa State would be forced to take more of the $11 million in cuts, something that Provost Wickert said is unfair.
“Any decision to exempt UNI from the cuts would not reflect that ISU teaches more Iowans than any other Regent University,” Wickert said.
As both chambers of the State Legislature seem to be in agreement on this budget plan, this seems to be the most likely measure for the university to base their budget on.
“Current tuition proposals are pending, but there is no indication of whether or not these mid-year budget cuts will carry over into the year 19 budget,” Wickert said.
Wickert said he did write to urge legislators not to carry these budget cuts over to next year citing the damage they may cause.
Wickert also brought up some of the accomplishments of the faculty at Iowa State, of which reducing the costs of learning materials was one thing he mentioned.
Open resource materials and e-bundles are a couple of the ways that students can see future savings, Wickert said. In English 302 students have saved $130 on average and in other classes they have saved up to $200 a student.
The Faculty Senate also looked into a few new majors or minors that could be available to students.
The first major was a B.S. in cyber security engineering. Tener mentioned the importance of this major saying that his son, an expert in the area who lives in Silicon Valley, has been searching for people with this exact proficiency.
Bigelow, the senator leading the discussion, seconded this saying, “as far as I know we would be the second college or university in the United States that offers this major.”
Bigelow also offered ideas of an illustration minor that would focus on creative drawing for things such as children's books or other design opportunities.
The last major brought up was for actuarial sciences. As proposed, this degree would differ from other schools in the state as it would be offered by the business college rather than be associated with math or statistics. The degree would still require the appropriate classes in these areas but would require, and focus, on the business applications.
The last thing discussed was reform in relation to the current track professors go through whether they are eligible for tenure or not. The reforms focus on simplifying the current progression that professors and lecturers would take over the course their careers. These two tracks differ between professors who are eligible for tenure and those who are “NTE” or not tenure eligible.
In its current state, the proposal would get rid of the position of “lecturer” and add the position of “professor of practice.” As the name suggests, a professor of practice does not require a higher degree but rather, requires that the professor has a high level of experience in their respective area.
Supporters say this is relevant for professors in areas like engineering and business where experience is highly valued.
The current proposal is far from final, and the Faculty Senate is accepting amendments between now and the next meeting in two weeks where they will vote on a final resolution.
Some of the concerns with the proposal stem from professors who don’t know what they would be classified as. Bootsmah, who is NTE, said “If I could be a professor of practice based on the current track, then why did I go to grad school.”
Other senators who also thought it blurred or eroded the title of professor, thought that it could hurt tenure altogether. One senator argued that in Iowa tenure is currently under attack by the legislature, and blurring the lines between a professor of practice and a professor with a higher degree would give the legislature more “ammunition” to try and end tenure.
Sen. Dave Peterson of the political science department said that this is just not how it would work.
“When a legislator goes to work at the capitol they have their minds made up on what the policy will be. The public and the legislature will not care to read our tenure policy when they make laws; that is not how people think,” Peterson said.
There was a general consensus that no matter the decision, the faculty wanted to ensure that everyone respects each other and make sure that titles aren't divisive. As such, Day referred to NTE professors and lecturers as "term professors."
Day finalized the meeting saying that senators should bring their amendments forward by next Friday in order to be considered for the Tuesday meeting.